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NDI/Carter Center Continue Monitoring; Recommend Publishing Full Results for Review

ATLANTA, GA.... This second post-election statement to the public on behalf of the National Democratic Institutes for International Affairs (NDI) and The Carter Center is based on the continuing joint effort by the two organizations to monitor the tabulation of results and disposition of complaints that have arisen. In our preliminary post-election statement, presented by former President Jimmy Carter on January 21, we concluded that "The Palestinian people had an historic opportunity to choose their leaders yesterday, and they did so with enthusiasm and a high degree of professionalism."

Nothing we have seen since that day has led us to revise that conclusion. Nonetheless, the election process will not be concluded until each step envisioned in the election law is completed an all concerns and complaints of the candidates have been fairly addressed. With other international and domestic observers, NDI and The Carter Center continue to monitor this process. In addition, NDI and the Carter Center will observe new elections called for on January 31 in two polling stations in Gaza North.

Although no on disputes the outcome of the election for Ra'oos and the vast majority of Council results, concerns have been raised in a few constituencies about the tabulation process when the results from all polling stations were aggregated. The NDI/Carter Center team is in the process of reviewing these concerns, We have found a few cases of incorrectly transferred numbers on the constituency tabulation forms and some delays and disorganization in the process. Nothing brought to our attention yet, however, persuades us that any election results should be considered erroneous or in doubt.

In Jenin, Jerusalem and Ramallah signed protocols and ballots from five out of 371 polling stations remained at the polling stations for more than a day after the voting. Other protocols were misplaced within tabulation centers in Hebron and Jerusalem district, because of the lack of a tracking mechanism for incoming protocols. In Gaza City, Gaza North, Khan Younis, Hebron and Jerusalem some candidates agents were improperly prevented from entering the tabulation centers although international observers were present and candidates' agents had been able to observe counting of the votes at the voting site in virtually all cases.

The fact that a protocol remained at a polling station for some time after it should have been delivered to the District Election office or was misplaced is reason for concern. However, this alone does not indicate that the results were falsified. In cases where candidates' agents, domestic Palestinian observers or international observers were present throughout the count and recorded the vote total s they witnessed, it is possible to verify the officially recorded results. If necessary to resolve controversy, the ballots from a particular ballot box could be recounted.

In Jerusalem, NDI/Carter Center observers went on January 24 with a representative of the District Election Commission and a candidate to polling station 65, found the protocol and the ballots for that polling station, and confirmed that the results on that protocol wee the same as figures that had been recorded by the candidate's agent. Likewise, in Jenin, the protocol for polling station 104, when located on January 22, was verified against the records of candidates' agents. This independent confirmation in these two cases is a reassuring example of how these and other problems can be resolved and of how the review process is working in some cases.

We are encouraged that election officials are facilitating this review as is their duty. We urge candidates and observers who have questions about specific polling stations to review those results in a similar manner so that the process can be completed as soon as possible.

To facilitate and expedite this review and to allay suspicion, we have suggested that the Central Election Commission (CEC) publish the results polling station-by-polling station and make copies of the signed protocols available to anyone who questions the results of specific polling stations. We are gratified that CEC is undertaking a full scrutiny of the results and soon will be making available to public results from each polling station. The publication of the results will allow candidates to check the figures against their own signed copies of the protocols and also provide for independent verification against the records of international and domestic observers.

Where there are discrepancies between a signed copy of a protocol held by a candidate and the official results for that polling stations, these discrepancies should be fairly resolved throughout the CEC or through appeals to the Electoral Appeals Court.

We are encouraged that Palestinians are pursuing the implementation of a fair and democratic electoral process. Continuing efforts to ensure the transparency of the final steps of this process will further strengthen the foundation upon which Palestinian democracy is being built.

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